Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that he and the Israeli people know what is best for their country, contrary to statements by the U.S. president that his counterpart insisted on “self-defeating policies.”
President Barack Obama’s statement was related to Israeli plans to build settlements on disputed land in the West Bank that both Israelis and Palestinians would like to build on, reported the Jerusalem Post.
"I think everyone understands that only Israel's citizens will be the ones to determine who faithfully represents Israel's vital interests," Netanyahu said while visiting an army base near Gaza. "Over the last four years we stood up against strong pressure, and I will continue to do so for Israel's security.”
Netanyahu also noted that December was the most peaceful month in the south part of Israel since 2001, though he noted that there were no “delusions and it could be shattered at any time.”
Bloomberg reporter Jeffrey Goldberg wrote on Tuesday that Obama told White House officials in November privately, but repeatedly, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”
His fear, according to Goldberg, is that Netanyahu was leading Israel down a path to isolation by ignoring disputes over the land and previous discussions of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
The land, referred to as E1, is located between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim. Israelis have long sought to build settlements there to create a continuous link to the northeast part of the country. Palestinians hope to one day establish a capital, if a two-state solution is reached, that would include that land and part of East Jerusalem.
“We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution,” said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
Netanyahu, as well as members of his political party, Likud, said Obama’s comments as reported by Goldberg were payback for the prime minister’s public support of Mitt Romney during the U.S. presidential election in 2012.
“In the administration, they saw that after Obama supported Israel in the Gaza conflict and at the UN, the next day Netanyahu wanted to build a new settlement in E1, and they threw up their hands in frustration,” Goldberg told the Post. “I have picked up this chatter about the White House over the past two weeks, so I wrote it. I’m a journalist, writing about what’s happening, not trying to steer an Israeli election.”
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